Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

The MA Degree

To receive a graduate degree from Loyola University Chicago, all students must take the Responsible Conduct in Research Seminar (RCRS) and pass a short test (P/F). Register through LOCUS to take a session of the seminar, which is offered periodically.

Additionally, to receive a graduate degree from LUC, all students must apply for degree conferral through LOCUS by the deadlines of The Graduate School, which appear in its official announcement emails.

MA Program of Courses:

For the MA degree you are required to take:

  • English 400 (Introduction to Literary Study)
  • At least three courses in English and American literature (at least one course in Medieval through 18th-century literature, and one course in 19th- or 20th-century literature)
  • At least one course in literary criticism and theory

For those focusing on teaching:

  • English 402 (Teaching College Composition)
  • English 404 (Pedagogy: Theory and Practice), or 403 (Advanced Composition)
  • One elective in literature
  • Non-credit internship

For all others: 

  • At least one course in textual studies or digital humanities
  • Two electives, one in literature, the other open
  • If you are required to take certain undergraduate courses as a condition of admission, they have priority over all other program requirements. Undergraduate courses (those on the 300-level) cannot satisfy the distribution requirements outlined above (for example, English 340, Victorian Literature, cannot fill the post-1800 requirement but it can be an elective in literature), and only one undergraduate course may count toward the MA.

The MA Examination:

After successfully completing their coursework for the degree, all MA students will take a four-hour written examination at the end of their course work. The exam is given during the last week of second summer term in August, and the first day of exam week in December and May. The exam will be prepared and graded by a four-member MA examining committee using a standard set of questions, each testing a particular skill. Faculty teaching graduate seminars in any one year will submit a short list of required readings (literary, critical, and theoretical) from their courses. From that list, the examining committee will form a master list of major texts to be used by students in answering the exam questions. This master list should contain around 50 works, no fewer than 30, distributed evenly across the course offerings. The short lists will be shared with students prior to the exam, the master list will not.

Format: The exam consists of two sets of questions with three options in each set. The questions cover literature, theory, criticism, pedagogy, and textual studies. For each two-hour exam period, students will answer one of the three questions using works selected from the master list provided. Students may discuss other readings from their courses but only after answering the question with works from the master list. Each question identifies the skills being tested (see below). The exam includes questions in three areas: literature before 1800; literature after 1800; and theory, including composition/rhetoric, textual studies, and literary theory. In the morning, students will answer one question in the literature section, choosing from a total of four questions; questions for the literature section of the exam should cover two historical periods and at least three literary works. In the afternoon, students will answer one question in the theory section, choosing from a total of three questions; questions for the theory exam should ask students to discuss at least 2 different theoretical/methodological approaches. 

Directions: Books are allowed, but not notes. Students are not allowed to log on to the Internet (except to e-mail their answers at the end) and are not allowed to bring memory sticks or thumb drives of any kind. Using prepared notes or the Internet will be grounds for failure of the exam. Essays should be double spaced with pages numbered. Parenthetical citations are sufficient; a works cited is not necessary. Students must save their answers on the desk top and e-mail them to Stephen Heintz (sheintz@luc.edu) and to themselves following each section of the exam. Once Stephen confirms receipt of all exams, students will erase the file from the desktop.

Skills: The exam is designed to demonstrate that students can:

  • make an argument and support it with textual details;
  • conceptualize a text in relation to its historical and cultural context;
  • engage secondary sources;
  • think theoretically; and
  • employ different critical and pedagogical approaches to literature.

Evaluation: The exam will be graded as High Pass, Pass, Low Pass or Fail. Students must pass both sections to pass the exam. The minimum requirements for the MA degree will be a Low Pass on the exam and a B average in all course work. MA students who fail the exam may retake it once in the following semester. PhD students who fail the exam may also retake it once, but only to complete the MA degree: they will not be allowed to continue in the program.

MA Exam Resources:

Department Evaluation Form

MA Exam Explanation of Grades